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To be annoyed with my cousins

(23 Posts)
nanaej Fri 31-Aug-12 21:59:56

My 87 year old aunt has a variety of physical ailments but mainly her heart (triple by pass a while back), polycythemia etc etc . Mentally she still has all her faculties, enjoys socialising, TV, crosswords, scrabble etc. She has only just got rid of her car though this is depressing for her as a step towards losing independence.
Both her sons live overseas

tanith Fri 31-Aug-12 22:02:13

Am I missing something ? what are you annoyed about?

nanaej Fri 31-Aug-12 22:12:32

..sorry this posted before I completed!

Both her sons live overseas so the emergencies , hospital visiting, sitting in A&E etc etc fall to me and another cousin and sometimes my brother & his wife.

My cousin also has her own elderly mum to keep an eye on. My brother & I lost our parents in the 1980s.

My cousins are overseas and visit a couple of times a year so cannot take on the day to day care but they will not take any real initiative in the long term support for my aunt. Each crisis it is discussed.. I did some research for them for various options ranging from live in care to residential care home ... but no action is taken.

I cannot ignore my aunts needs...I am extremely fond of her..I am quite like her..physically & personality... but I feel my cousins need to be more proactive.

Greatnan Fri 31-Aug-12 22:28:59

Sounds to me that it is time for some straight talking to her sons. They cannot expect you to shoulder their responsibilities. I know some people don't feel that children owe their parents anything, but it is surely a question of giving back some of the love she gave them.
Could they afford to pay for residential care? Does she own her own home?
You are being very kind but perhaps you are enabling them to avoid the issue of their mother's care.

whenim64 Fri 31-Aug-12 22:37:13

Do you think they might not realise just how much care she needs now nanaej? Perhaps setting out the situation in a letter will enable them to recognise that more help is needed now, and that it falls to them to sort things out.

nanaej Fri 31-Aug-12 22:51:36

when they do know really and when we write /skype we do express our concerns and they say plenty of thank yous. I think the do love her but they have both made lives away from UK. They do help out financially, e.g my SiL re-did her bathroom over Xmas and my cousins paid for the materials but really the flat is ready for a total is clean but just well worn! She has until this year flown out to spend holiday with them but says she cannot do this any more.
My aunt owns a two bedroom flat in a purpose built 1970's block.

janeainsworth Fri 31-Aug-12 23:00:09

nanaej you mention that options of care homes etc has been discussed ...How does your aunt feel about this herself?
If she feels the time has come to move on from her own home, can you get a care assessment done (I think through an occupational therapist via the GP)?
Perhaps if you had some official back up your cousins would have to become more involved.

Nanadogsbody Fri 31-Aug-12 23:07:31

Yes, nanaej it is reasonable to feel annoyed with your cousins over this, after all it's their mother. It's the old story that female relatives are expected to look after their relatives while the males all too often take a back seat.

But quite what you can do to shake them of of their apathy I don't know, unless you're prepared to say 'enough'?

whenim64 Fri 31-Aug-12 23:16:15

Sounds like they're hugely relieved that you are on the scene nanaej and they're taking the risk that you will continue to fill in for them. If I were you, I would develop a bad back or some excuse that means you can no longer cover all eventualities. They need shoe-hornng into taking on their responsibility for their mum.

Bags Sat 01-Sep-12 06:11:02

How often do the hospital visits and sitting in A&E occur, nanaej? Those are the problems you highlighted. And not having a car. Is your aunt able to get groceries, prescriptions, etc. delivered? Can she get out enough to see people?

Nanadogsbody Sat 01-Sep-12 08:16:12

Love the image you create when with the 'shoe-horning' but so true and apt.

NannaJeannie Sat 01-Sep-12 10:57:05

I agree with greatnan about straight talking to the overseas sons, in a letter as whenim64 suggests. Although be careful of how you phrase things as they might show your aunt the letter. Also it is probably the case that sons tend to empathise less about caring needs, it is probably way down on their list of concerns - 'out of sight, out of mind' even though they purport to be 'grateful from a distance'. The thing is, what is to be done?

When the next crisis occurs - as it surely will do, you, nanaej will be the closest on hand and be able and expected to get to your aunt well before either of the sons can get flights. If, god forbid your aunt has a fall, you will be in the hospital, waiting with her. As you are not next of kin how does the hospital deal with you? What if power of attorney needs to be set up? Before your aunt goes into a care home (if she does), she may need carers going in to the flat (with all the problems that ensue from that).

For your own sake this needs to be sorted out now. You are not being unreasonable to be disappointed with the sons at all. They need to wake up and come back to the UK for a meeting, acknowledging that their mother can no longer drive. They need to talk to her GP and get an assessment of needs, they need to get a shift on.

The trouble is, many old people think they are fine and can manage forever.

I have experience of this, my sister and me for years now have taken responsibility for our aunt (although she has no children, there is only us) and although she is in care now, it has taken up a lot of our time - most of which we gladly give, but we live miles away and any visit or incident that needs to be dealt with takes up a whole day. Sometimes our aunt is a bit 'hard work' and we come away from a visit or previously doing some jobs in her home feeling wrung-out. Our parents died years ago, our dad looked after our mum before she died and our dad was ill for about a year and we saw to his every need.

vampirequeen Sat 01-Sep-12 11:08:29

Tell them straight that it is becoming too much for you and that it's time to bring in/pay for professional help too. Can they afford to pay for a decorator to do up her flat? Could she come to stay with you during the upheaval? What about a carer going in to help out? My neighbour has a lady who goes in every week to clean etc. She has to pay but she says it's worth it.

My mum's elderly neighbour has Wiltshire foods delivered so she can have a hot meal every night. She says the meals are not over expensive and very tasty. Also there make normal and smaller portion meals so if your aunt has a reduced appetite she won't be wasting money.

Does the flat need any aids such as bath aids, handles etc? If so contact social services as these can be put in for free.

Have a look at the Age UK website.

NfkDumpling Sat 01-Sep-12 11:12:08

It sounds as if her boys do care but as they know you will deal with any emergency making a decision just gets put on the back burner. It could well be simply a case of out of sight out of mind. They may well intend to do something but it just slips down the 'Really Must' list and they never get around to it. And does your aunt hide her true position from them?

Could you not discuss the options with your aunt and present them with a fait accompli? It may concentrate their minds!

Bags Sat 01-Sep-12 11:52:07

Sorry if this is seen as picky, but I don't understand why home decorating has been mentioned. Much of my house would probably be judged to be in need of decorating by many gransnetters, but what has that got to do with whether I need someone to accompany me to A&E or to a hospital appointment? Also, if the cousins live abroad they can hardly be there for emergencies that need instant attention and isn't it a bit much to expect them to come over and take their mum to hospital appointments? How many does she have? Where do they live? A hop across the channel, or the other side of the world? I can't help getting the feeling that you are just feeling that looking after your aunt is not really your responsibility (which is fine) and want to somehow blame your cousins for not living down the road.

Do they have paid jobs that require their attendance?
Do they have kids of their own to see to?

And a million other questions that would explain why the situation is how it is.

So far, I do not see that there is anyone to blame for anything. If the sons need to be told that their mother needs more help, tell them.

Sorry, but I just don't 'get it' at the moment.

AlisonMA Sat 01-Sep-12 12:09:47

I agree with most of the above.

Do they ever come to the UK? If they spent a fortnight with their mother they would see what needs doing and realise the true situation. Maybe she is the type who doesn't want to complain and they don't realise how needy she is.

In our area we have volumteer drivers who take people to hospital, do you have anything like that? I think you should try to farm out as much of the care as you can so you only have to deal with the emergencies. You have my sympathy because you care about her and feel obligated.

HildaW Sat 01-Sep-12 14:17:46

As long as you are taking up the slack the sons will be happy not to see this as a situation in need of addressing. They have just got used to you stepping in. I know from experience that unless you are around some elderly folks very regularly they can become quite clever at hiding their true situation. Some home truths from you, perhaps in writing, might be needed to spur them on. As AlisonMA suggests get someone a bit more official involved, letting her sons know, of course. Then if you possibly can, try to take a backseat a little more. I'm afraid that because you have a much better awarness of her needs and a decent sense of duty and respect for her, they will leave it to you.

FlicketyB Sat 01-Sep-12 15:53:58

One question. What was the relationship between your aunt and her sons when they were young? I am not necessarily suggesting a dramatically dysfunctional home but sometimes a relationship can be ambivalent and later on children can prefer to have a distant, if pleasant relationship with their parent. When I worked as a Home Visitor with Age Concern (as was) I worked with an elderly man whose 4 children had all emigrated to Australia. He was a nice man but utterly intransigent, unprepared to compromise or adjust on anything. I spent a year trying to resolve the problem I had been called in to help with but his intransigence made it impossible. By the time I and AC gave up I had begun to understand why his children had emigrated. I would have if he had been my father.

One possible way of getting your aunt's sons to take up their responsibilities is to say that you and possibly other relatives will be unable to help her for a short period, say 2 weeks to a month, make up some reason why and that the sons will need to make alternative arrangements for her care. It might just make them sit up and do something.

Bags Sat 01-Sep-12 17:38:58

What is the role of social services, or whichever department deals with such cases where there are no relatives? Could they not be informed of the lady's needs and asked to do something?

vampirequeen Sat 01-Sep-12 22:05:07

Bags...I mentioned decorating because nanaej said the flat was in need of a refit.

Bags Sun 02-Sep-12 07:17:32

It was the refit I was wondering about, vamp. I mean, I was wondering if the flat is unlivable in or whether it is just a bit old-fashioned and worn but perfectly functional. If the latter, I'd be inclined to leave it alone and concentrate on other practical needs. But I asked because it isn't clear from the original post. It could, of course, be very relevant to the old lady's needs. Perhaps nanaej will came back and tell us. Anyway, I hope a solution is found one way or another.

vampirequeen Sun 02-Sep-12 08:23:20

Does the flat need extra putting in for her needs? That's were social services can help.

tattynan Sun 02-Sep-12 19:53:48

You must tell your cousins that you can't shoulder the responsibility for your Aunt alone and would they mind if you and they arrange for outside agencies to come in and help.Social services were so helpful and understanding of our parents needs when help was needed.Hope everything works out well for you all.